Pierluigi Scotolati, 30, is an Italian graphic designer who was fascinated by space since he was a little boy. He was stunned when we called him – because we wanted to publish one of his space graphics, in which he put the race for space into one big picture. And we were stunned too – when we learned that Scotolati is a fan of Heraeus’s retro reflector, which has been measuring the distance between the moon and the earth since 1969 when Buzz Aldrin placed it on the lunar surface. We asked him where he would like to go within the universe. And man, Scotolati has quite specific travel plans. While still on planet earth he lives in a small town outside of Venice. One of Scotolati‘s graphics was published in the "The Best American Infographics 2016" and several of his works are used in schools all around the world.
You told us that you saw a model of the retro reflector...
… yes, at the Science Museum in London in the space exploration section. It was a reproduction of the lunar lander on lunar soil and right next to it I discovered an eye-catching device: I had never seen it before, but I instantly knew what it was. We haven't left many devices on the moon, so I imagined what it was because some time ago, in one of my trips through Wikipedia, I was trying to understand how we can measure the distance between earth and our satellites. And this is how I learned about the reflector. I love the idea of being able to directely interact with something on the moon here from earth, with a laser beam.
Would you like to go to space yourself?
It is not exactly on my priority list. I'm more of an observer than an adventurer I think. But there are some things that I'd really like to see. First of all, a view of the full circle of earth from space. It must be a breathtaking and life-changing view to see our entire world hanging so fragile in the void. Another place I'd be curious to see is Titan, Saturn's biggest and atmosphere equipped moon. It must have stunning landscapes with lakes made of hydrocarbons and methane rains. And as a bonus, the atmosphere is so thick and the gravity so low that it should be possible to fly with artificial wings moved just by muscle power.
People being involved in Space stuff are often regarded as geeks or nerds – any explanation why?
I think all of us in our personal ways are geeks or nerds. We all have something we love knowing and can't stop learning about. Being interested in space is maybe considered geeky because it's seems to be something not affecting our everyday social life, like sports or music. Probably because it is still a new thing – space exploration is not much older than videogames.
Will humans one day live on other planets?
Of course we will! And I like to think that in a particular way we are already living in other planets. There are many bits of human culture and technology wandering around cosmos and exploring it in on our behalf. And there are thousands of people here on earth that live their everyday lives with their heads deep in space, finding solutions to get us all there. At the moment we may have less strong political will to push the boundaries, but I think going beyond is something that is written deep inside humankind, so I think it's just a matter of time. I hope that I can see it happen in my lifetime.
What is your next space project?
I think the next on my to-do list is something about space robots. We send them all by themselves to go where we still can't, and we follow their discoveries through the data they send. I'd like to give them a little homage and tell some of their stories.